We are finally on the map. Well actually Google had us on the map a long time ago, but now Canada has been included on Google’s streetview.
For those who don’t know, this is an added feature of Google maps that shows you 360° view of the street. You can zoom around, and travel up and down the street.
Like most people the first thing I did was look for my house. It was there, with my car parked in front of the neighbours. (Don’t ask me why!)
Next step was to look at my office. This was for two reasons. Firstly it is my office. But secondly I happened to have been standing outside the office when the Google streetcar came by. I waved. Perhaps that is why I am not in the photo.
Apart from satisfying my ego, Google streetview does have some more important uses.
Firstly you can get a pretty good idea of an area just by looking at the street scenes. Nothing is hidden apart from some fuzzed out faces and license plates. That can save you some nasty surprises.
For instance, one of our clients last year booked their initial furnished rental off a web site. It turned out that the apartment was pretty good inside, but the area was noisy, busy and frankly not what they wanted. Had they been able to look at the streetview then perhaps they would have found this out before they booked. As it was we were able to find them somewhere quiet on a tree-lined street and still in a convenient area for them. So streetview helps you see beyond the glossy advert.
Same goes for a house you are considering buying. Why not have a spin around the neighbourhood from your armchair? Could save you the trip.
You could look at the streets around the schools you are interested in. Or check out the shops, restaurants and so on in the area.
Streetview does not cover everywhere and it is not a substitute for local knowledge, but it is always good to be able to find out as much as possible before you come.